Thread: Aliveness in Aikido
10/08/2011 10:50pm, #1
Aliveness in Aikido
I hope you don't mind a reply/question here. I didn't want to start a whole new thread as that didn't seem a good idea when, as someone who knows tons more than I do, you could answer the question here.
Anyways, as you've noticed, I really have an interest in aikido...but I don't want to get involved in something that is so 'not alive' that it's real world application would be close to useless. Is there such a thing as 'alive' aikido training, i.e., styles/schools that incorporate alive training in their curriculum? Or would I be better off attending, say, a Daito Ryu aikijujutsu school?
10/09/2011 12:45am, #2
In the truest sense no, there's not really what you'd call "aliveness" in aikido. Not to the definition which would be accepted here anyways.
Yoshinkan and Tomiki-Ryu are widely accepted as more alive than other schools of aikido however, both still have their limitations which are further down the 'effectiveness scale' than other systems such as Judo of BJJ.
The problem rests with that fact that there's no definitive benchmark within aikido because it is an untested form of gendai jujutsu, its promogulation worldwide has never been through pressure tested training and although Tomiki based aikido has a strong competitive base, the rule set is restrictive.
In terms of Daito Ryu, for self defence you're going to waste your time and effort. It's a fantastic system but it's training is based on koryu methodology and although there's a significant difference in mentality in application than say within aikido, there's far better systems which don't rely on fine motor skills and considerable years of study before you can actually see physical ability, plus the fact you have confidence in knowing that when you train, you will be testing those techniques against partners who's job it is to resist the application thus, you learn how to develop your game within that environment.
Not to sound flippant but.. Do Judo."To sin by silence when one should protest makes cowards out of men".
10/09/2011 2:41am, #3
Anyways, I think I'll look into Judo and try to find a school/style that'll work for me. Thanks!!!!
10/09/2011 3:12am, #4
Koryu Bujutsu and the retainers of feudal Japan is an interesting subject and often worth the time and effort in researching. The problem stems when you want to combine old world studies of martial traditions and make them applicable to a modern age, it just doesn't fit.
It's like a jigsaw puzzle with pieces which you can see are shaped the same way, look like they fit together but, when you marry the two together you find it just won't come together - Koryu is like that within the modern world, unless you separate them and understand that for the vast majority, what you're doing is a physical study of history, instead of reading about it, you're practicing it (to a degree).
Study of koryu bugei is really nothing more than the transmission of history between one generation to another, students keep those traditions alive by doing so however, whilst the "martial" connection exists, one must ensure that definition isn't mixed with a contemporary attitude of self defense. I'm not suggesting that you'd not gain *some* applicability (depending on what you study of course) but, given the decades you may spend learning a koryu, the amount of actual real world (today's world) applicability will be grossly disproportionate.
If you want to study a Koryu then do so. Do it because you enjoy the participation within a piece of living history, don't do it because you want to learn self preservation in today's society."To sin by silence when one should protest makes cowards out of men".
10/09/2011 6:04am, #5
Hence the creation of gendai arts, well, except aikido, aikido is a weird offspring, because it's a gendai art that still thinks its koryu, so some of the training methods are koryu like, but not enough. When was the last time you saw an aikido sensei constantly raising the pressure of a kata in order to force the student to learn, while also playing the uke and taking the battering?
10/09/2011 6:42am, #6
The original authors of the Bugei Ryuha Jiten - later known as the Bugei Ryuha Daijiten used the Meiji Restoration as the division between the old systems and the newer arts which emerged thereafter.
Although in general terms, the division catagorised the difference in methodology between "Bujutsu" and Budo" as we both know, justu and do were interchangeable words long before the declassification of Japanese society and the official end of the Samurai.
That said, it's not so much the system of [whatever] which could be at fault in terms of actual effectiveness, because of it being gendai in nature - take Judo as a prime example of a cross over form Koryu origins and how it exists today. Aikido however is as we both (again) know deeply influenced.. no, **** it, I mean infected by the philosophies of the founder, THAT'S where the problem rests - how people today receive and then transmit the teachings of the system.
If you talk to people like Henry Ellis or Derek Eastman, both pioneers of British Aikido when it hit the shores of the UK in '55, they'll both vehemently tell you that aikido then, as it was taught by the likes of Abbe Kenshiro (also a high ranking Judoka) Abe Tadashi and later Chiba Kazuo, was demonstrably far more martial and was taught in the same way.
Chiba was the technical director of the aikido organisation to which I belonged for nearly 15 years and his aikido was by far the most martial I've experienced, as he's aged, it's become less so but that's understandable, many of his primary students however continue to maintain that level of training.
At the end of the day it's about attitude, if you want to make it work, you have to train that way. If all you want to do is subscribe to an ideological philosophy, well, then for the vast majority, what results is what we see today."To sin by silence when one should protest makes cowards out of men".
10/09/2011 9:25am, #7
I guess it all boils down to what you want out of your martial arts. I enjoy the randori aspect of judo, not because it makes it any more effective in real life, but because I just like that aspect of actually fighting another thinking person. Same in kendo. I did a short stint with aikido and missed that aspect.
There's a lot of blather on bullshido about effectiveness and all that and personally I think it's only important if you think it is - the odds you are going to actually use what you learn in anger are real low. But the odds that you are going to spend a lot of time practicing are 100%, so you'd better enjoy what you do. If learning koryu or aikido or whatever floats your boat then go for it I say, and don't be so concerned about "aliveness". OTOH for some people knowing (or thinking they know) that what they are training is giving them working skills for the modern environment is important - so they enjoy their practice in that sense.
10/09/2011 12:27pm, #8
Dave, I guess I was angling towards the fact that koryu tends towards a historical tradition, which is quite often no longer that applicable, and because of it gendai 'style' arts, shall we say, appeared to fill the gaps that appeared once those arts were no longer that pertinent. As an example, IIRC one of the reasons for kendo becoming popular, way before the Meiji period, was because it provided aliveness training which was needed for swordsmen because Japan was at that time already very peaceful, and their skills were suffering. I can't remember where I read that version of history though, and it could be the typical over-romanticised version of events.
Of course pre-Meiji kendo is still not koryu, and the strength of it is that it doesn't need to adhere to the strict etiquette of transmission and teaching that a koryu does, same with judo, they took skills outside of the koryu model, and allowed people to practise them without all the trappings of being tied into a dojo/head etc, people could even go off and form their own dojo, just by being good, they didn't have to do it under anyones auspices or by having to break away and form a -ha.
I completely agree about early aikido being a different beast, and also that it really depends what people put in. Its also very true the founder is responsible for the down turn. But I was driving at the idea that aikido is very much a 'traditional' art in its way of doing things, but doesn't use other traditional methods, such as the senior member typically being Uke in order to raise the bar of performance while moderating the safety.
10/09/2011 1:06pm, #9
Cheers Yoj, I understand where you were coming from mate."To sin by silence when one should protest makes cowards out of men".
10/09/2011 1:56pm, #10